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Live webchat with Steve Biddulph about Raising Girls, Wednesday 16 January, 9pm to 10pm

(246 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 14-Jan-13 14:08:03

Parenting expert Steve Biddulph is joining us for another webchat on Weds 16 January at 9pm - 10pm. Steve last joined Mumsnet back in 2000 when he talked about his book Love, Laughter and Parenting as well as his worldwide bestseller, Raising Boys.

We're delighted that Steve is returning to talk to us about his latest book, Raising Girls. This was written as a response to the 'sudden and universal deterioration in girls' mental health, starting in primary school and devastating the teen years'. The book is both a call-to-arms for parents and a detailed guide through the five key stages of girlhood to help build strength and connectedness into your daughter from infancy onwards. Join the discussion and you will be entered into a draw to win one of five copies of Steve Biddulph's Raising Girls. 

If you're interested in Steve's latest book, Mumsnet Academy are running a one day seminar with Steve on 26 January in London. Here's more information.
Put the date in your diary to join the discussion on Weds 16 at 9pm-10pm and if you're unable to join us then, post a question in advance to this thread.

gazzalw Mon 14-Jan-13 15:06:25

Hi Steve

I come from a family of boys so I feel I have at least some insight into boys. However girls are a bit of an unknown quantity to me so would appreciate your help!

DD (7), unlike DS, seems to have this need to conform and do as others do and is strongly influenced by them, whereas we feel that she should grow up to have a mind of her own and to be able to stand her ground. One example is the old mobile phone chestnut. It is difficult to argue one's case with a child who does not yet see that other children may come from families with different core values and for whom material possessions are some type of status symbol (something we don't go in for as a family at all). Should we compromise, stick to our principles or what?

The other issue is girls friendships and the horrors that they seem to experience with the dynamics of these. I knew that by secondary school age there can be real issue of bitchiness twixt girls, revolving around friendship etc.., but had no idea that it's alive and kicking when they are so little. DD doesn't seem to shrug off friendship issues in the same way as DS did at all and it can make her sad and sometimes even anti going to school...How should we be dealing with it to ensure that she sees that certain friendships are not the be-all and the end-all and that if problems arise with one friend or group then she should just go and play with other children?


Ashoething Mon 14-Jan-13 15:54:17

Thanks for joining us on mumsnet Steve.

My question is-as a teen I suffered from mh issues due in a large part to my own mothers unhealthy obsession with weight. In her eyes anyone over a size 10 is obesehmm

How do I avoid passing such views on to my daughter given the image obsessed society we live in now? Thanks in advance for answering my question.

JugglingFromHereToThere Mon 14-Jan-13 16:21:06

Hi Steve. I really enjoyed reading your books a few years ago when my DC's were small - I remember reading "The Secret of Happy Children" especially fondly - I'm sure it would be good to re-visit them again now that my DD is 13 and DS is 11. BTW DD and DS are both pretty happy so thanks for your help !

I know you co-wrote some books with your wife which I thought was good.

However the feminist in me is bridling slightly that a new book on How to Raise Girls (daughters) is written by a man (yourself !) - when most of the readers and the ones doing the raising and many experts in the field of parenting and child development are women.
I feel rather the same watching Saturday Kitchen when the presenter and all the guest chefs are men !
Do you have any thoughts on this ?!

I guess I find it easier to accept your expertise and advice on raising happy children or on raising boys than I do on how to raise my daughter !

Nevertheless I will welcome your new book to see what wisdom it can impart as DD approaches her teen years.

scottishmummy Mon 14-Jan-13 17:13:52

I have misgivings with your books,your research methods and pejorative terms like slammers. why do girls need a gender specific book?this seems like a crude attempt to follow up your boys book,rather than rigorous psychological approaches.

certainly dr Cordelia fine would dispute such assignations of gender traits

bealos Mon 14-Jan-13 18:46:42

I understand you had a lot to give with Raising Boys but how does this make you an expert on raising girls??

betterwhenthesunshines Mon 14-Jan-13 19:43:14

You possibly cover this in your book, but I would be interested in your view of single sex education for girls at secondary level.

I was at single sex until 16 and then mixed so I can see advantages in both, and obviously it depends on your daughter's character, the school etc but overall views?

leopardtrousers Mon 14-Jan-13 22:05:17

Hi Steve
I would value your thoughts on how to help my 10 year old daughter who is close friends with a very confident, compitent and atractive girl who loves being the centre of attention. My daughter describes herself as 'in the background' and has feelings of 'not being as good / good enough'.
We have discussed what she feels she loves and is great at, and I have encouraged her to focus on these things. I have also encouraged her to spend time with other friends.
Any other thoughts?
Many thanks.

msteeth Mon 14-Jan-13 22:31:32

I would normally advocate all-girls schools for secondary and co-ed at primary, but DD1 (year 6) has recently developed a full-blown eating disorder, and it is directly linked not to weight but to anxiety. She is in a small all-girl class. I think that the best secondary school for someone with her issues would have to be a co-ed, mixed-ability environment without much "beauty pageant" stuff going on. In other words, the opposite of the current 'Diamond Model' or 'all-girls is best' thinking. Do you think that would be wise, or is it the case that girls with such issues do fare better also in single-sex environments?

stopsayingmum Mon 14-Jan-13 23:17:20

Hello -

I had a rather rocky relationship with my father - quite a love/hate thing throughout my teenage years. How can I make sure this is not repeated with my husband/daughter?

Thank you,

ONtherunmum Tue 15-Jan-13 02:15:47

Dear Steve,

In your new book you have mentioned 'tend and befriend' pattern in attached DD when mothers were emotionally unavailable.

My DD is 6, and it seems like she is the type 'tend and befriend' instead of standing for herself. When she was two- three y.o. I was emotionally down, now I feel like my daughter is attached to me for that reason.

After reading your book preview, I see myself as 'tend and befriend', now 37, being raised by depressed mother, and all I've done in life is to comfort my mother and make her happy.

Is there a way to reverse this pattern? I want my DD to be free and strong.

I bought your book through Sunday Times presale, but still waiting for it to come and cannot wait for most of the answers.

Thank you

ripsishere Tue 15-Jan-13 02:49:40

Sorry, can't afford to buy your book.
My 11.8 DD is at school in Malaysia. She has a very intense friendship with one particular girl who is herself very nice. Unfortunately, she will not try to extend her friendship circle, so if I is off school for any reason, DD tends to be alone.
She is the only European child in her school, so her appearance makes her stand out. One girl in her class is, according to DD bullying her because she is white. DD wants to punch her in the face. I've so far managed to discourage this.
Another issue is food. Unfortunately, Malay girls seem to be very thin. My DD is pretty much average, probably below for build. She is coming home now with half of her lunch uneaten. I suppose I should be glad she brings the uneaten stuff home. I think an issue is her going to pray with her friend I.
How do I encourage other friendships without her alienating I who, while nice is a bit controlling.
I should mention her Dad is a teacher at the school if that has any bearing on anything. They do have a fantastic relationship both at home and school.

flow4 Tue 15-Jan-13 09:12:00

I see an emerging crisis among teenagers in the UK (and probably the western world as a whole) which I believe arises (at least partly) because we make them socially useless, and 'trap' them in childhood and in school, at precisely the time of their lives when they have most energy...

The result is unhappy, frustrated, angry teenagers - and (as one experienced practitioner once described it to me) "boys act out and girls act in". This is a tendency not a universal rule, of course; but we do see more boys involved in anti-social behaviour and the criminal justice system, and more girls self-harming and developing eating disorders.

I must admit that I do not see a 'sudden and universal deterioration in girls' mental health, starting in primary school and devastating the teen years'. I think this is an ongoing pattern, which could be clearly seen in my own school days (30+ years ago). Social pressures are different then, and there was less focus on 'perfect' body image and more on being a 'good girl'. There has always been, and still is, pressure on girls to conform to expectations, rather than to be themselves.

Yet girls have always been 'allowed' to have mental health problems: when it comes to teenage distress, it seems to me that our society wants to view girls as 'sad', and boys as 'bad'.

One of your central themes in Raising Boys was that boys need fathers. Boys struggle, you argued, when their fathers are not actively and positively involved in their upbringing. I agreed with this, and have seen it happen with my own DS1 and countless other boys. It certainly seems to me that men have withdrawn from raising boys and girls in our society - not totally (of course there are some wonderful, very involved dads), but to a very large extent.

On the other hand, mothers have very definitely not withdrawn from raising their children. We hang on in there, through thick and thin, as these boards show.

So my question is this - if there is a crisis for girls now - is this also due to men's withdrawal from parenting? What do you think fathers offer girls that mothers cannot? Or do you have some other explanation...?

Guard Tue 15-Jan-13 09:27:13

Thank you for coming to Mumsnet and I will look forward to some of the answers to the very interesting questions posed. My question is about sibling rivrally in families of girls. I try to be as fair as possible in supporting (and praising) my 3 DDS but never cease to be amazed how they compete for attention, and the eldest needs to point out how she is a better swimmer/runner/reader etc than her sisters (2 and 5 years younger). Any thoughts on how to determine what is the driving behaviour and how to best manage it ?

flow4 Tue 15-Jan-13 09:41:58

My boys do that too, Guard. It particularly infuriates the older one (17) when the younger one (13) does it to him!

timetosmile Tue 15-Jan-13 10:05:16

Hello Steve, thanks for coming onto Mumsnet, and for your previous books which I have enjoyed.

I have a great 9 year old daughter, kind and uproariously witty, sandwiched between two boys. She is, I think, generally content with life and happy 'in her own skin' question is, how do I and her Dad best support her on this course through her preteen and teenage years?

herewegoloubylou Tue 15-Jan-13 10:07:30

What message would you give teenage girls about casual sex/respecting themselves?

I'm thinking along the lines of "Your body is a Temple"...grin

What's a suitable modern-day message?

We went to your "Raising Boys" talk in Croydon years and years ago...our son has turned out really well, so thanks for that. grin thanks (I do mean it.)

Sinople Tue 15-Jan-13 11:21:04

thank you for joining us here, and taking the time to answer our questions. My question relates to young children/girls and their response to major life events such as the arrival of a younger sibling. My now 3 year old has much less attention now that she has a younger sibling. she is now thought of as the big kid - having to more responsibility and expected to act responsibly... all this with less one-to-one attention. i can see how her world has been shaken, but feel that i cant humanly give any more than im giving... although id love to find the time to regain some of those lost quality moments that we used to have. Nothing can be done to change the 2.5 yr gap between children, but i think in hindsight i would have had a longer gap so as to avoid this. Any thoughts would be appreciated smile i look forward to reading your book.

JugglingFromHereToThere Tue 15-Jan-13 11:36:20

I sympathise as I had a 2.5 yr gap between my two Sinople

Can you leave your youngest with someone else for brief periods and do something nice with DD1, even something small such as sharing a book together ? I do wish I'd done this more often myself - life seems/ is so busy with a baby isn't it ?

JugglingFromHereToThere Tue 15-Jan-13 11:49:39

A proper question if I may about DD (13) (so you can choose which you prefer to answer !)

DD is doing well and is the light of my life ! - seems generally happy, has friends, doing well at school, lovely sense of humour, kind and thoughtful.
Phew ! So far, so good !

I guess some of her biggest challenges over the next few years will be coping with the stress of working hard at school and coping with all those upcoming exams.
How can I help her to keep a sense of balance about all of this whilst still encouraging her to do her best - as will be important for future life opportunities ?
And how involved should we be as a family in supporting her with her school work ? My family fairly much left it to me as my responsibility when I was her age ! Should I offer more support, or is independence a good thing to encourage ?!

orangepudding Tue 15-Jan-13 12:07:16

Hi Steve,

I have three children. My oldest and youngest are confident happy children. My middle child, an 8 year old girl, is quiet, shy and reserved. She does have friends and will put herself forward for activies. I do find that she is easily over looked as she is quiet and doesn't make a fuss.
Me and my husband worry as we were the same as children, overlooked in favour of the loud children. Being overlooked really affected my husbands school life and knocked his confidence despite the fact he is very bright. He did do well because he was a hard worker but still has confidence issues.
I really worry that DD2 will have her confidence knocked in the same way, how can I help her?


mrsshackleton Tue 15-Jan-13 12:13:11

Hello Steve,

Thank you for coming here. My eldest dd is nearly 8 and always has been a very shy child. She is hugely lacking in confidence. For a couple of years now she's been looking in the mirror and telling me she is ugly and fat. She is neither. She also has a tendency to scream that she hates herself if she's told off for anything and that she wants to kill herself (though she's admitted she says this last to make us feel sorry for her). What kind of things can I do to bolster her confidence and help her like herself more?

Thank you.

FBmum Tue 15-Jan-13 14:19:07

Hi Steve - really pleased you're doing this webchat - your raising boys and raising happy children have seen me through many a difficult time!

As a female, I thought raising a daughter would be easier and more intuitive. In fact, I am finding that there are many more emotional clashes and DD (7) seems to know exactly which buttons to push - something my DS (9) has never managed. In fact at the moment, my DD is becoming increasingly aggressive towards me and my husband if things do not go her way and it is as if we have a 17 year old in the house, not a 7 year old.

She is EXTREMELY well behaved and liked at school, but the minute she arrives home, she can flip - it is almost as if the effort of being "good" is just too much! Do you have any advice on how to manage such aggressive mood swings at such a young age and how to coax our 'less angry' daughter back?

damibasiamille Tue 15-Jan-13 14:20:13

Hi Steve! Have you any suggestions how we can help our daughters to avoid being a victim of sexual abuse, or deal with it if it happens?

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 15-Jan-13 17:08:01

Can I just butt in here and caution against assuming that the traits you are concerned about in your DDs are because of their gender.

I have 2 boys and they are very different. I think some of the personality traits that we ascribe to gender are just individual differences, and are just as influenced by birth order.

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